Everything but a Feeling

LichtenbergWhen at different periods in life one speculates about solipsism (which considers all material bodies as nothing more than just our ideas), it usually happens as follows:

  1. First, as boys, we laugh at the absurdity of this idealism.
  2. A little bit later, this theory seems to us witty and presumable; we discuss it eagerly with people who in terms of age or education, are still in the first period.
  3. At a more mature age, we consider it to be very accurate, we annoy ourselves and others with it, but we think it is unworthy of disproving and against nature. Man believes that it is not worth brooding over it, because it seems to him that he had thought enough about it.
  4. In the end, however, after deeper deliberation this idealism becomes the truth quite invincible for him.

Please only think that even if there are any items outside of our mind, we know nothing about their objective reality. Everything we receive is solely through our impressions and ideas. The belief that these impressions and ideas are caused in our mind by external objects, is after all nothing more than just our idea again. There is no way to overcome idealism, since we would always be only idealists, even if there were material objects around us, because we could know absolutely nothing of the essence of these objects.

Everything is but a feeling; knowledge of external things would be a contradiction: man cannot go beyond himself. By judging that we perceive material external objects, we are clearly in the wrong, because we only see ourselves, i.e. our imagination. Nothing in the world can we know except ourselves and except changes which occur in us. Also, we cannot feel for someone else or as them, as we say sometimes: we only feel for ourselves. This sentiment seems strange, but on closer deliberation ceases to be such. No one loves a father, mother, wife and children, but only loves pleasant feelings that these people cause; these feelings flatter either our pride or our self-love; we love ourselves, i.e. ourselves in someone, but not that someone. It cannot be otherwise, anyone who denies this assertion, does not understand it.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg – Vermischte Schriften

Convenience

The world is a construct of our sensations, perceptions, memories. Ita is convenient to regard it as existing objectively on its own. But it certainly does not become manifest by its mere existence. Its becoming manifest is conditional on very special goings-on in very special parts of this very world, namely on certain events that happen in a brain.

Erwin Schrodinger

Distortion Level

Throughout theological history we have been assured by religious leaders that if we perform certain rituals, repeat certain prayers or mantras, conform to certain patterns, suppress our desires, control our thoughts, sublimate our passions, limit our appetites and refrain from sexual indulgence, we shall, after sufficient torture of the mind and body, find something beyond life itself.

But a tortured mind, a broken mind, a mind which wants to escape from all turmoil, which has denied the outer world and been made dull through discipline and conformity – such a mind, however long it seeks, will find only according to its own distortion.

The question of whether or not there is a God or truth or reality, or whatever you like to call it, can never be answered by books, by priests, philosophers or saviours. Nobody and nothing can answer the question but you yourself and that is why you must know yourself. Immaturity lies only in total ignorance of self. To understand yourself is the beginning of wisdom.

Jiddu Krishnamurti – Freedom from the Known

Collective Solipsism

Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift answer crushed him like a bludgeon. And yet he knew, he knew, that he was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind — surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of O’Brien’s mouth as he looked down at him.

I told you, Winston, that metaphysics is not your strong point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you are mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective solipsism, if you like. But that is a different thing: in fact, the opposite thing. All this is a digression. The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over men.

George Orwell – 1984

On Truth and Lies

To begin with, a nerve stimulus is transferred into an image: first metaphor. The image, in turn, is imitated in a sound: second metaphor. And each time there is a complete overleaping of one sphere, right into the middle of an entirely new and different one.

One can imagine a man who is totally deaf and has never had a sensation of sound and music. Perhaps such a person will gaze with astonishment at Chladni’s sound figures; perhaps he will discover their causes in the vibrations of the string and will now swear that he must know what men mean by “sound.”

It is this way with all of us concerning language; we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things–metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.

Friedrich Nietzsche – On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense

Die Welt ist meine Vorstellung

The world is my idea. This is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract consciousness. If he really does this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world which surrounds him is there only as idea, i.e., only in relation to something else, the consciousness, which is himself.

Arthur Schopenhauer – The World As Will And Idea

Unnum

I have read many writings both of heathen philosophers and inspired prophets, ancient and modern, and have sought earnestly to discover what is the best and highest quality whereby man may approach most nearly to union with God, and whereby he may most resemble the ideal of himself which existed in God, before God created men.

And after having thoroughly searched these writings as far as my reason may penetrate, I find no higher quality than sanctification or separation from all creatures. Therefore said our Lord to Martha, “One thing is necessary,” as if to say, “whoso wishes to be untroubled and content, must have one thing, that is sanctification.”

Meister Eckhart – Sanctification


Luke 10,38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.

Escape from Freedom

The spiritual relatedness to the world can assume many forms; the monk in his cell who believes in God and the political prisoner kept in isolation who feels one with his fellow-fighters are not alone morally. The kind of relatedness to the world may be noble or trivial, but even being related to the basest kind of pattern is immensely preferable to being alone.

Religion and nationalism, as well as any custom and any belief however absurd and degrading, if it only connects the individual with others, are refuges from what man most dreads: isolation.

Erich Fromm – The Fear of Freedom

Contradiction of Faith and Love

Faith is the opposite of love. It was faith, not love, not reason, which invented Hell. To love, Hell is a horror; to reason, an absurdity. Hell sweetens the joys of happy believers.

God is love. This is the sublimest dictum of Christianity. But the contradiction of faith and love is contained in the very proposition. Love is only a predicate, God the subject. What, then, is this subject in distinction from love? The necessity of the distinction would be done away with only if it were said conversely: Love is God, love is the absolute being. Thus love would take the position of the substance. But love does not alone fill my soul: I leave a place open for my uncharitableness by thinking of God as a subject in distinction from the predicate.

Necessarily; for in Christianity love is tainted by faith, it is not free, it is not apprehended truly. A love which is limited by faith is an untrue love. Love knows no law but itself; it is divine through itself; it needs not the sanction of faith; it is its own basis. The love which is bound by faith is a narrow-hearted, false love, contradicting the idea of love, i.e., self-contradictory,— a love which has only a semblance of holiness, for it hides in itself the hatred that belongs to faith; it is only benevolent so long as faith is not injured. Hence, in this contradiction with itself, in order to retain the semblance of love, it falls into the most diabolical sophisms, as we see in Augustine’s apology for the persecution of heretics. Love is limited by faith; hence it does not regard even the uncharitable actions which faith suggests as in contradiction with itself; it interprets the deeds of hatred which are committed for the sake of faith as deeds of love.

The Bible curses through faith, blesses through love. But the only love it knows is a love founded on faith. Thus here already it is a love which curses, an unreliable love, a love which gives me no guarantee that it will not turn into hatred; for if I do not acknowledge the articles of faith, I am out of the sphere of love, a child of hell, an object of anathema, of the anger of God, to whom the existence of unbelievers is a vexation, a thorn in the eye. Christian love has not overcome hell, because it has not overcome faith. Love is in itself unbelieving, faith unloving. And love is unbelieving because it knows nothing more divine than itself, because it believes only in itself as absolute truth.

Christian love is already signalised as a particular, limited love, by the very epithet, Christian. But love is in its nature universal. So long as Christian love does not renounce its qualification of Christian, does not make love, simply, its highest law, so long is it a love which is injurious to the sense of truth, for the very office of love is to abolish the distinction between Christianity and so-called heathenism;— so long is it a love which by its particularity is in contradiction with the nature of love, an abnormal, loveless love, which has therefore long been justly an object of sarcasm. True love is sufficient to itself; it needs no special title, no authority.

Ludwig Feuerbach – The Essence of Christianity

Madness of Authorities

In contrast to others he set his face against all discussion of such high matters as the nature of the Universe; how the “cosmos” came into being; or by what forces the celestial phenomena arise. To trouble one’s brain about such matters was, he argued, to play the fool.

He was astonished they did not see how far these problems lay beyond mortal ken; since even those who pride themselves most on their discussion of these points differ from each other, as madmen do.

He set his face against attempts to excogitate the machinery by which the divine power formed its several operations. Not only were these matters beyond man’s faculties to discover, as he believed, but the attempt to search out what the gods had not chosen to reveal could hardly be well pleasing in their sight. Indeed, the man who tortured his brains about such subjects stood a fair chance of losing his wits entirely.

Xenophon – Memorabilia

The Anarchist

There is a perfect likeness between Christian and anarchist: their object, their instinct, points only toward destruction. Those holy anarchists made it a matter of “piety” to destroy “the world,”which is to say, the Imperium Romanum, so that in the end not a stone stood upon another — and even Germans and other such louts were able to become its masters. The Christian and the anarchist: both are decadents; both are incapable of any act that is not disintegrating, poisonous, degenerating, blood-sucking; both have an instinct of mortal hatred of everything that stands up, and is great, and has durability, and promises life a future.

These stealthy worms, which under the cover of night, mist and duplicity, crept upon every individual, sucking him dry of all earnest interest in real things, of all instinct for reality — this cowardly, effeminate and sugar-coated gang gradually alienated all “souls,” step by step, from that colossal edifice, turning against it all the meritorious, manly and noble natures that had found in the cause of Rome their own cause, their own serious purpose, their own pride. The sneakishness of hypocrisy, the secrecy of the conventicle, concepts as black as hell, such as the sacrifice of the innocent, the unio mystica in the drinking of blood, above all, the slowly rekindled fire of revenge, of Chandala revenge — all that sort of thing became master of Rome: the same kind of religion which, in a pre-existent form, Epicurus had combated.

One has but to read Lucretius to know what Epicurus made war upon — not paganism, but “Christianity,” which is to say, the corruption of souls by means of the concepts of guilt, punishment and immortality. He combated the subterranean cults, the whole of latent Christianity — to deny immortality was already a form of genuine salvation. Epicurus had triumphed, and every respectable intellect in Rome was Epicurean — when Paul appeared…

Paul, the Chandala hatred of Rome, of “the world,” in the flesh and inspired by genius — the eternal Jew par excellence. What he saw was how, with the aid of the small sectarian Christian movement that stood apart from Judaism, a “world conflagration” might be kindled; how, with the symbol of “God on the cross,” all secret seditions, all the fruits of anarchistic intrigues in the empire, might be amalgamated into one immense power.

The genius of Paul showed itself. His instinct was here so sure that, with reckless violence to the truth, he put the ideas which lent fascination to every sort of Chandala religion into the mouth of the “Saviour” as his own inventions, and not only into the mouth — he made out of him something that even a priest of Mithras could understand. This was his revelation at Damascus: he grasped the fact that he needed the belief in immortality in order to rob “the world” of its value, that the concept of “hell” would master Rome — that the notion of a “beyond” is the death of life.

Friedrich Nietzsche – The Antichrist

Introduction

It is natural to suppose that, before philosophy enters upon its subject proper−namely, the actual knowledge of what truly is−it is necessary to come first to an understanding concerning knowledge, which is looked upon as the instrument by which to take possession of the Absolute, or as the means through which to get a sight of it.

This apprehensiveness is sure to pass even into the conviction that the whole enterprise which sets out to secure for consciousness by means of knowledge what exists per se, is in its very nature absurd; and that between knowledge and the Absolute there lies a boundary which completely cuts off the one from the other. For if knowledge is the instrument by which to get possession of absolute Reality, the suggestion immediately occurs that the application of an instrument to anything does not leave it as it is for itself, but rather entails in the process, and has in view, a moulding and alteration of it.

Or, again, if knowledge is not an instrument which we actively employ, but a kind of passive medium through which the light of the truth reaches us, then here, too, we do not receive it as it is in itself but as it is through and in this medium. In either case we employ a means which immediately brings about the very opposite of its own end.

Or, again, fear of the truth may conceal itself from itself and others behind the pretext that precisely burning zeal for the very truth makes it so difficult, nay impossible, to find any other truth except that of which alone vanity is capable − that of being ever so much cleverer than any ideas, which one gets from oneself or others, could make possible.

This sort of conceit which understands how to belittle every truth and turn away from it back into itself, and gloats over this its own private understanding, which always knows how to dissipate every possible thought, and to find, instead of all the content, merely the barren Ego − this is a satisfaction which must be left to itself; for it flees the universal and seeks only an isolated existence on its own account.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – The Fenomenology of Spirit

Insufferable Negligence

Błażej Pascal - francuski matematyk, fizyk i religijny filozof

We know well enough how those who are of this mind behave. They believe they have made great efforts for their instruction, when they have spent a few hours in reading some book of Scripture, and have questioned some priest on the truths of the faith. After that, they boast of having made vain search in books and among men. But, verily, I will tell them what I have often said, that this negligence is insufferable. We are not here concerned with the trifling interests of some stranger, that we should treat it in this fashion; the matter concerns ourselves and our all.

Let them at least learn what is the religion they attack, before attacking it. If this religion boasted of having a clear view of God, and of possessing it open and unveiled, it would be attacking it to say that we see nothing in the world which shows it with this clearness. But since, on the contrary, it says that men are in darkness and estranged from God, that He has hidden Himself from their knowledge, that this is in fact the name which He gives Himself in the Scriptures, D e u s  a b s c o n d i t u s [Isaiah 45:15, a God who hides Himself] – what advantage can they obtain, when, in the negligence with which they make profession of being in search of the truth, they cry out that nothing reveals it to them?

Blaise Pascal – Pensées

Christian Taboo

The endeavour of the son to put himself in place of the father god, appeared with greater and greater distinctness. With the introduction of agriculture the importance of the son in the patriarchal family increased. He was emboldened to give new expression to his incestuous libido which found symbolic satisfaction in labouring over mother earth. There came into existence figures of gods like Attis, Adonis, Tammuz, and others, spirits of vegetation as well as youthful divinities who enjoyed the favours of maternal deities and committed incest with the mother in defiance of the father.

But the sense of guilt which was not allayed through these creations, was expressed in myths which visited these youthful lovers of the maternal goddesses with short life and punishment through castration or through the wrath of the father god appearing in animal form. Adonis was killed by the boar, the sacred animal of Aphrodite; Attis, the lover of Kybele, died of castration. The lamentation for these gods and the joy at their resurrection have gone over into the ritual of another son which divinity was destined to survive long.

When Christianity began its entry into the ancient world it met with the competition of the religion of Mithras and for a long time it was doubtful which deity was to be the victor. The bright figure of the youthful Persian god has eluded our understanding. He represented the son who carried out the sacrifice of the father by himself and thus released the brothers from their oppressing complicity in the deed. There was another way of allaying this sense of guilt and this is the one that Christ took. He sacrificed his own life and thereby redeemed the brothers from primal sin.

The theory of primal sin is of Orphic origin; it was preserved in the mysteries and thence penetrated into the philosophic schools of Greek antiquity. Men were the descendants of Titans, who had killed and dismembered the young Dionysos-Zagreus; the weight of this crime oppressed them. In the Christian myth man’s original sin is undoubtedly an offence against God the Father, and if Christ redeems mankind from the weight of original sin by sacrificing his own life, he forces us to the conclusion that this sin was murder. And if this sacrifice of one’s own life brings about a reconciliation with god, the father, then the crime which must be expiated can only have been the murder of the father.

Thus in the Christian doctrine mankind most unreservedly acknowledges the guilty deed of primordial times because it now has found the most complete expiation for this deed in the sacrificial death of the son. In the same deed which offers the greatest possible expiation to the father, the son also attains the goal of his wishes against the father. He becomes a god himself beside or rather in place of his father. The religion of the son succeeds the religion of the father. As a sign of this substitution the old totem feast is revived again in the form of communion in which the band of brothers now eats the flesh and blood of the son and no longer that of the father, the sons thereby identifying themselves with him and becoming holy themselves.

Sigmund Freud – Totem and Taboo

The Last Supper

Peace

You must understand that point first: what is this world? You make 1. time, 2. space, 3. karma [cause and effect]. In three seconds, when you asked that question, you made this whole world. Physics used to teach that time and space, and cause and effect, are absolutes. But modern physics teaches that time, space, and cause and effect are subjective. So you make this whole world, and you make your time and space.

The Buddha taught this, and we can test it in our everyday life. “Everything is created by mind alone.”

First we need to understand who creates this world. Who? World means: 1. Time, space and 2. 3. karma [cause and effect]. These three things together make up the world. Where is the world? What is the world? Who creates time, space, cause and effect? Nobody understands, but we call it the world. Physicists say that the time, space, cause and effect are absolutes. Now they say they are subject; are your mind. If your idea of time and space is different, then the cause and effect of it will be different.

You have to understand the essence of Buddhism. Buddha said that all things are created by the mind alone. You create your time, your space, its cause and effect. If you do nothing, then there is no time, no space, no cause or effect. Your world is completely finished. My world is finite. But everyone does something, so there is a big mistake, and world peace is not possible.

So please everyone: for one day, do not do anything. Then one day there will be peace in the world. Excellent master said, a great way is not difficult, do not just divisions. Before each facing elections, so we have problems. Why choose?

Human beings do not matter, because no choice. If you make choices, you’re doing something. You create a reason, you create problems. Everyone does. He says things like: I like communism; I like capitalism; I like Buddhism; I like Catholicism, I like this and that. So everyone has a problem and is therefore struggle.

But you complicates your world. I complicates my world. Two, three, many worlds many complications. This world is very big, so it is all the more complicated. But if you see that your world is very simple, and I see that my world is very simple, the whole world is very simple. No problem.

Do you understand the world of the child? Five year old goes to the market and sees another child. First, they look at each other. They do not know each other’s names, or anything about myself do not know. But soon they go over to him and will talk. All children do that. But when they grow up will be: I am. Then you imitating me !, I do not love you. You’re not fine !, Why not? and will soon be fighting. That’s liking and disliking, which appears, it is like an atomic bomb. If everyone could do that to his inner “I like it” mind vanished, the external atomic bomb would not be dangerous. That’s liking-disliking mind is an internal atomic bomb, that it is the most dangerous. If the atomic bomb will dissolve if everyone finds his human nature, then world peace will not be a problem. Do you understand now?

Third Culture Kids

He said to me once when we were talking of the so-called horrors of the Middle Ages: “These horrors were really nonexistent. A man of the Middle Ages would detest the whole mode of our present-day life as something far more than horrible, far more than barbarous. Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evils.

Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap. A man of the Classical Age who had to live in medieval times would suffocate miserably just as a savage does in the midst of our civilisation. Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence.”

Hermann Hesse – Steppenwolf

The Problem of Meaning

The difficulties associated with “the arguments for the truth” of Christianity have given me sleepless nights; most of our core beliefs must be taken on faith. Significant intellectual difficulties, faced by a believer or an alleged believer, are not posed by the problem of proof, but by the problem of meaning. Statements specifically religious seem to me without any meaning.

A. N. Prior

Paradise

Christianity says, I believe, that sound doctrines are all useless. That you have to change your life. Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened and will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life.

L. Wittgenstein

In Time of Spirits

I must find myself behind thoughts – namely, as their creator and owner. In the time of spirits thoughts grew till they overtopped my head, whose offspring they yet were; they hovered about me and convulsed me like fever-phantasies – an awful power. The thoughts had become corporeal on their own account, were ghosts, e. g. God, Emperor, Pope, Fatherland, etc. If I destroy their corporeity, then I take them back into mine, and say: “I alone am corporeal.” And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine, as my property; I refer all to myself.

Max Stirner – The Ego and His Own

poster

Contrary Objects

In dreams we all experience contrary objects. We are often asleep in a room, and actually not in the room, just up the street, talking to a man who turns out to be a plant or an edifice, without ceasing to be human. Still, apart from the nonsense of logic, we live through, without surprise, the nonsenses of nature, fantastically stuck characters and events, we do miracles and experience them with remarkable ease, and above all, without a trace of surprise, doubt, anxiety, without the need for scrutiny from the other senses and others sentient.

At home we read Ovid and experience with him clusters of trees and people, the transformation of stones and animals, deities in human and animal bodies do not offend us at all – yes: we are amused and occupied by sirens, chimeras, dragons, angels, devils, metamorphoses, incarnations and ascensions.

In religious beliefs we also have an inexhaustible source of clusters with so brightly self-excluding characteristics: we have passions of the innocent in the name of justice, and even love, we have responsibility without guilt, and next to the impossibility of logical and moral paradoxes, infinite series of natural impossibilities in the form of miracles and legends. The whole world, so vivid in childhood and natural in the mind of primitive men, compatible with all the childish, fairytalelike view on things – persists in many mature minds.

Wladyslaw Witwicki – The philosophy of science

The Autumn of the World

When the world was half a thousand years younger all events had much sharper outlines than now. The distance between sadness and joy, between good and bad fortune, seemed to be much greater than for us; every experience had that degree of directness and absoluteness which joy and sadness still have in the mind of a child. The great events of human life–birth, marriage, death–by virtue of the sacraments, basked in the radiance of the divine mystery.

There was less relief available for misfortune and for sickness; they came in a more fearful and more painful way. Sickness contrasted more strongly with health. The cutting cold and the dreaded darkness of winter were more concrete evils. Honor and wealth were enjoyed more fervently and greedily because they contrasted still more than now with lamentable poverty. The lepers, shaking their rattles and holding processions, put their deformities openly on display.

In their external appearance, too, town and countryside displayed the same contrast and colour. The city did not dissipate, as do our cities, into carelessly fashioned, ugly factories and monotonous country homes but, enclosed by its walls, presented a completely rounded picture that included its innumerable protruding towers. Just as the contrast between summer and winter was stronger then than in our present lives, so was the difference between light and dark, quiet and noise. The modern city hardly knows pure darkness or true silence anymore, not does it know the effect of a single small light or that of a lonely distant shout.

Johan Huizinga – The Autumn of the Middle Ages

Esse est percipi

It is indeed an Opinion strangely prevailing amongst Men, that Houses, Mountains, Rivers, and in a word all sensible Objects have an Existence Natural or Real, distinct from their being perceived by the Understanding. But with how great an Assurance and Acquiescence soever this Principle may be entertained in the World; yet whoever shall find in his Heart to call it in Question, may, if I mistake not, perceive it to involve a manifest Contradiction. For what are the forementioned Objects but the things we perceive by Sense, and what do we perceive besides our own Ideas or Sensations; and is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these or any Combination of them should exist unperceived?

Some Truths there are so near and obvious to the Mind, that a Man need only open his Eyes to see them. Such I take this Important one to be, to wit, that all the Choir of Heaven and Furniture of the Earth, in a word all those Bodies which compose the mighty Frame of the World, have not any Subsistence without a Mind.

George Berkeley – A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge